Thursday, August 01, 2013

Competition is heating up... on all fronts.

Real estate is changing fast. Big real estate portals and desperate agents are combining to create real estate havoc, while customers will surely get caught up in the cross fire.

The Financial Review on 26 July ran the headline "Business needs big 'wake-up call' on digital", quoting Greg Ellis, CEO of (REA).

Greg Ellis' views are fascinating as they show that REA are moving more into our traditional agency space. I recently interviewed Greg on Toop.TV (great interview, watch the full video right here) and real estate clout is definitely shifting, no doubt about it.

On the other end of the spectrum locally, agents are showing signs of desperation. Some agents are doing some pretty underhanded things. A classic example this week was where one of our Sales Partners passed on a couple of letters to me that had been sent to her current clients. Michael Walkden & Jonothan Kiritis, both from Ray White Mile End, have sent solicitation letters directly to her clients. Not nice.

Targeting competitor sellers with solicitation letters can be terribly unsettling and confusing for the client; this practice is also in clear breach of the Real Estate Institute of SA (REISA) Code of Practice. The only problem is, Ray White Mile End are not members of REISA. By dropping membership in 2003 they can no longer be held accountable by REISA, the peak industry body. REISA members have high ethical standards to uphold and being a member requires accountability to good practices.

So what is the link between Greg Ellis and Ray White Mile End? Sure... neither are members of REISA, but there's more than that!

Both are challenging traditional beliefs and long held values. So are you, the consumer, better off?

Big businesses have declared their interest in taking on greater agency roles, while agency cohesion appears to be breaking down as competition amongst agents intensifies.

Time will be the ultimate test, but I would have thought all parties, big and small, need to have an agreed Code of Ethics and Code of Practice for the good of all.

A full-scale battle for traditional real estate turf seems imminent.

So where does Toop&Toop sit?

At Toop&Toop the consumer is king. Only two things sit higher in our business hierarchy than a customer/consumer in our philosophy to business; they are (1) Integrity; and (2) Fairness... we apply a fairness test to our decisions. We will not compromise our integrity; we will do what is both right and fair.

At present we are flat out reinventing ourselves. If we don't, I can see the online portals will take over, as is essentially already happening, and as outlined in this article. It's up to us to outperform them and add more value. If we provide a relevant service that is second to none, we think (and hope) the new real estate customers will embrace us fully.

We now have three full-time programmers going flat out and three full-time graphics experts, all onsite. The race is on to innovate. We are serious about reinventing the way we do business. The biggest challenge is speed to market with these new abilities, it is all moving so quickly.

Toop&Toop can see the traditional real estate train smash coming, and the clock is running on reforms. We need to provide smarter ways of selling and renting properties -  which are more cost effective, faster, and targeted. If we don't, others will.

Agencies running around upsetting everyone, breaking all the traditional rules and protocols are not the answer. Relying on massive real estate portals to do our job is not the answer either.

Reinventing how real estate business is conducted is our only chance; aligning our services and business approach to our customers' new needs.
We have talked about it a lot, but we are currently in the middle of rolling out our 2013 portfolio of selling innovations. Here are our 8 latest innovations which are now up and running...

(1) ToopGlobal, (2) Toop's real-time networked sales team,
(3) 3D videos, (4) our totally new interactive large format website, (5) ToopGlobal reception live streaming, (6) our ToopAir aerial photography is partially operational (CASA grounded our drones pending new legislation, but we have found a reasonable work around), (7) Toop 2D videos are now dominating online portals, and (8) TheVault is currently in beta tests pending launch for spring.

Competition is heatting up from all directions... not just other agents.

By embracing, rather than fighting emerging resources like REA, we are almost giggly as to how the future looks. This is an exciting era for Toop clients.

We won't be trying to steal other agents' clients either, but we sure will try to win them over.
Business needs a big wake-up call' on digital… rest assured Toop&Toop are very much awake!

Anthony Toop

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